‘Fresh’ approach nets Cats opening-day win
It was all playing out exactly the way the De Soto girls soccer team didn't want.
Then, for a moment, the tie they had been dreading seemed like a potential gift from on high as Gardner took a 1-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining in Tuesday's season-opening game.
De Soto tied the score moments later, then avoided its second consecutive season-opening tie as freshman Carly Stanley pounded a ball past the Trailblazers goalie, lifting the Cats to a 2-1 double-overtime victory.
"I just kept saying 'There's no way we're going to come out and play 100 minutes and tie again,'" coach Darren Erpelding said.
Stanley scored both of the team's goals, but Erpelding said there was way too much to like about Tuesday's performance to focus just on one athlete, even the flashy freshman who wasted no time showing she could live up to the hype.
Erpelding said fellow offensive threats Jeni Hill, Nicole Radcliff and Danielle Price all played very well. He said the defense was solid, including goalie Megen Bedford.
Gardner's brief lead and only goal came with Bedford shifted just out of position, and on a ball Erpelding said didn't even appear to have been an actual shot.
"We controlled the majority of the game," he said. "It shouldn't have gone to double overtime, but Gardner played tough and it did.
"The goal they got, Megen thought the ball had squirted free, then it went up over her head."
De Soto wasted little time in answering. Tami Crow played a ball on the wing to Hill. Radcliff nudged it toward Stanley and De Soto was tied 1-1.
The final goal came just into the second and final overtime period. Stanley blasted the ball, and it hit the goalie, a fate so many Wildcat shots had already met. This one went off her fingertips, however and buried in the back of the net.
Erpelding said it was a welcome relief from the many near misses that marked the game's first 80 minutes.
"We took 20 or 25 shots and they were on frame," Erpelding said. "Their keeper made nice saves. The girls got their touches and their shots. Jeni had three or four shots. Danielle had three or four, Carly probably had three or four.
"All the girls got their shots and that game easily could have been 4-0 if we just put the ball away. The keeper made some nice saves, but there were a lot of balls we put right at her."
De Soto is next in action at 6:30 p.m. Thursday as it hosts Basehor-Linwood. The Wildcats took last year's game 4-2, but Erpelding wasn't taking the coming game at all lightly.
"They're solid. They're much better from last year and are well coached," Erpelding said.
"(Tuesday) we controlled the ball really well, and we'll need to do it again. Compare last year's (De Soto) team to this year's team, we'd kill last year's team.
"We moved the ball extremely well. If we do that again, we'll be OK."